Coping with Hearing Loss: Plain Talk for Adults About Losing Your Hearing

Coping with Hearing Loss: Plain Talk for Adults About Losing Your Hearing

RATING: (3 of 5 ears)
AUTHORS: Susan V. Rezen and Carl Hausman
PUBLISHER: Barricade Books
ISBN: 1-56980-165-7
COST: $19.95 (hardcover)

REVIEWER: Steve Huart, AuD, Mayo Clinic Scottsdale

SYNOPSIS: This text provides a very broad overview of hearing loss in adults and many of the issues that are related. The book is written in layman's terms and begins by describing the anatomy and physiology of the ear and common causes of hearing loss. Several chapters are dedicated to psychosocial aspects, one is written specifically for significant others. The chapter on hearing aids not only describes the styles and technology but provides a lot of information on care, maintenance, trouble shooting and common user complaints. There is a separate chapter describing other assistive devices. One chapter is dedicated to each of the professionals who provide services to the hard of hearing: audiologist, physician, and hearing aid dispenser. There is a brief chapter on tinnitus. The last five chapters are a mini aural rehabilitation program. Chapters include strategies and exercises for improving communication and coping with a hearing loss and a discussion of the cost and where to look for possible financial assistance. For the motivated reader, there is an appendix of Internet resources. Most chapters conclude with real world examples and/or several frequently asked questions and answers.

REVIEW: The book covers a lot of territory. There is an introduction that warns readers that health care professionals (physicians and audiologists) "sometimes lack the training and inclination" to help people cope with hearing loss. In spite of this rather negative beginning, there is a lot of very valuable, useful information in the following chapters.

There is enough information on anatomy and physiology to give the reader a basic understanding of how we hear and what can go wrong with the system. There may be a little more detail on decibels than most patients will absorb, however, anyone reading this section will have a reasonable understanding of what an audiologist is talking about when reviewing an audiogram.

There are several excellent chapters on the psychosocial and emotional aspects of hearing loss. Many consumers will probably pick the book up and go right to the chapter on hearing aids. The authors wisely point out that the hearing aid is not the first step in dealing with a hearing loss and stress the importance of acceptance and motivation.

The chapter on hearing aids is half description of styles and technology and half hearing aid orientation program. The most important items from the typical hearing aid owner's guide are covered in more detail than most guides printed by the manufacturer. How to get used to, care for, and troubleshoot instruments is covered very well. The chapter on other assistive devices introduces some of the accessories or alternative devices that are available. It reinforces that hearing aids alone often can not "fix" a hearing problem.

There are three separate chapters that define the professionals who provide services for the hard of hearing. While the providers will always debate who should be the point of entry into the hearing healthcare system and which professional is best qualified to provide what services, these chapters will help the reader understand who he or she may come in contact with throughout the process.

There is just enough information on tinnitus to answer the questions that most patients have about the noise in their ears. The chapter also provides references for more information.

The last quarter of the book covers the issues that will make or break most hearing aid fittings. The "Program for Better Communication" in chapter 12 includes 16 exercises for the reader. For those motivated enough to actually do them, these exercises are simple and thought provoking.

CRITIQUE: This book is intended for the consumer of hearing health care rather than the professional. It might be useful for an introductory counseling or aural rehabilitation class.

The strength of this book is the amount of information dedicated to the emotional impact that hearing loss can have on the individual and on significant others. While it stresses how important amplification is, the authors emphasize acceptance and motivation. Plenty of examples, exercises and frequently asked questions are provided. The weakness of this book is in the frequent the references to money. Examples: "...expect to pay $75-125 for a complete hearing evaluation..." "A dispensing audiologist probably won't charge any more than a dispenser/dealer." "If you buy two hearing aids, you should not pay double the price. Never!" and, "...plan on spending $35 to $45 per hour for individual therapy." Audiologists have to pay for equipment, years of education, direct and indirect expenses. Quoting fees fosters suspicion in the consumer when the clinic or clinician charges more than he/she read about or anticipated.